Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from the National Audit Office

I understand that you were provided with supplementary evidence by Madeleine Lee on behalf of Professional Interpreters for Justice on or around 6 November 2012. We have had sight of this evidence as Madeleine Lee also sent the evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts.

I am concerned that although the evidence provided refers to the National Audit Office, we do not agree with all the evidence attributed to us. We understand that Madeleine Lee, in her note, states that:

“For reasons that were set out in a thorough response to my Freedom of Information request (not included), the National Audit Office concedes that its report relied on financial information that was not the relevant information, and consequently made certain errors in its modelling of the losses suffered by professional interpreters.”

We modelled the effect of the comparative wages under the previous and current systems to see what the effect of the Framework Agreement was likely to be on the remuneration of interpreters. We were exploring how likely it had been that ALS could attract interpreters to work for it (as their procurement bid relied on this) and pay was one important aspect of that. Our modelling was based on the data that the Ministry of Justice held at the time and had used in the procurement. There were no other data available and they were not as comprehensive as we would have wanted, which we stated in the response to Madeleine Lee’s Freedom of Information request. We do not accept, however, that our report “relied” on this data. The modelling was a minor part of the Memorandum feeding into just two of the 56 paragraphs in the main body of the Memorandum.

We do not accept that we made errors in the modelling and did not say that in response to the freedom of information request made by Professional Interpreters for Justice and others. The data we used provided the range of possible work scenarios for interpreters. Our model generates scenarios based on random numbers and so the results vary each time the model is run based on, for example, the number of interpreter bookings taken, the length of appointments and travelling time and distance used in each scenario. The important point, that we make clear in paragraph 1,13, is that “the reduction in income varies by the amount and type of jobs taken but there is a marked reduction under all scenarios.” We believe that the infinite variability in the different pay levels experienced under different scenarios sufficiently explains the difference between the results obtained from our model and that produced by Professional Interpreters for Justice, Our technical experts advised on all aspects of the modelling exercise and on its use in the report.

I hope that if you plan to publish Madeleine Lee’s submission that you are also able to publish our views of this subject to provide balance.

November 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013